A professional services business could be any number of things, from actuarial services to veterinarian practices. Do you have what it takes to use your specialist skills and carve out your own operation?
Do you have expertise in an in-demand professional service, such as accounting, marketing, financial management, law, human resources, travel consultancy, or engineering?
If so, you could start your own freelance consulting or professional services business.
Professional services workers provide clients with guidance and advice on a topic, or complete specific tasks for them, such as tax preparation, creating Google AdWords campaigns, recruiting staff members, or preparing a financial plan.
One of the benefits of this kind of work is that you can often get started with very little startup capital.
Since you’ll use your own knowledge and skills (and can likely work from home), it’s possible to be up and running in no time and with only a small amount of initial investment.
For those keen to go down this path, here are some tips for starting your professional services business on a budget.
Firstly, have a solid resume available for potential clients to read.
Even though you’ll be self-employed and won’t need to submit a resume for job applications, those interested in hiring you will still want to get an idea of your background and abilities.
This is where a good resume comes in.
Post the details on your LinkedIn profile or even make a CV available on your website so anyone who wants to learn more about what you bring to your work as a consultant can do so with ease.
Things people look for include:
The stronger your credentials are, the easier it will be for you to impress potential clients and get enquiries right away.
When you’re ready to quit your job and launch your own business, end things amicably with your current bosses.
Even if you can’t wait to hand in your resignation letter and say ‘adios’ because you’ve not enjoyed your role for some time, there’s no call for being unprofessional.
Give employers enough notice (based on industry expectations and in accordance with your contract terms), and be polite and professional at all times.
Keep in mind that the firm you worked at can actually become a good source of referrals for you. As such, you don’t want to damage this potential revenue stream.
For instance, if your current employers grow too big to handle all the work they have coming through to them, they may need to turn away some clients.
Alternatively, they may decide not to take on smaller clients anymore.
When this happens, be waiting in the wings. If you’re available for this work and keen to accept any referrals they want to send your way, you’ll be well positioned to capitalise from the relationship you’ve worked so hard to maintain.
Unless you’re working in a highly specialised field, you’ll likely have plenty of competition in the market to go up against.
As a result, you must find ways to stand out.
A prime way to do this is to have a point of difference that you advertise on your website, advertisements, social media pages, and elsewhere.
Think about the problems you can solve for individuals or businesses that no one else can.
Also, is there a particular customer demographic that isn’t being served right now, who you could target in your business?
What about additional benefits? Can you provide extra value that other workers in your sector don’t offer?
Anything you can do to differentiate yourself in the market will help you to get business more quickly and easily.
No matter how introverted or shy you may be, when you start a business, it’s necessary to put yourself out there and network.
Thankfully, though, this doesn’t have to involve awkward hard-sell situations where you force your business card on people and try to get them to sign up for business on the spot.
Today, networking is simply about meeting new people, fostering connections, developing relationships, and providing value.
Get to know people who may need your services in the future, and be available if and when they’re ready to hire someone with your skillset.
Network both online and offline, too. Online, take advantage of the power of social media.
Advertise your services on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and showcase your expertise through sharing tips, articles, and other relevant content.
Offline, attend relevant business events, such as conferences, trade shows, and general networking events.
The more people you get to know and impress, the higher your chances are that you’ll have clients lining up to hire you.
Another low-cost way to get your name out there is to develop joint-venture partnerships.
Team up with other businesses and individuals who cater to the same clientele you do, and then refer each other.
For example, if you’re an accountant, work with a financial advisor or a specialist corporate lawyer.
Whenever either partner has a client who needs related services, they recommend the other person and provide the client with that person’s contact details.
Doing this is not only a win-win for the professional services workers, but also helps customers who don’t want to waste time searching for the right people for the job at hand.